Why vibrant Sunderland youngsters are perfect tonic for fans fuming at wantaway players

There were more than a few eyebrows raised when the team was announced before the Hull City game with the emphasis heavily on youth, but not one of the young players let themselves down.

Monday, 22nd January 2018, 7:08 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd January 2018, 7:20 pm
Sunderland's Joel Asoro celebrates scoring his side's winning goal.

In the days leading up to the game, the headlines were about players not wanting to play for the club and there is nothing more disheartening than that, but seeing fresh and vibrant youngsters giving their absolute maximum was the perfect tonic for every Sunderland supporter reeling from the constant stream of bad performances, bad results and bad attitudes.

It is clear Chris Coleman wants to see pride in the shirt now and players eager to play for such a great club, so hopefully now he knows who he can rely on, while trying to get anybody who thinks they can do better elsewhere out the door.

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Of course a slender 1-0 win against a fellow relegation struggler doesn’t suddenly make everything all right, but Coleman gambled on Saturday and it was a gamble that had to work or we were in serious trouble – thankfully it did.

The two kids up front have stolen the headlines and why not with Joel Asoro claiming the winner, a clinical winner on his league debut just like his strike partner Josh Maja did against Fulham and how important have those two goals been and the six points they have earned.

George Honeyman, too, was industrious, providing the assist for the goal, but it was Ethan Robson, a young player I have seen very little of, who impressed me the most.

He was comfortable in possession, not afraid to put his foot in and if you can judge on just one performance, he looks to have a bright future.

The experienced players shouldn’t be forgotten though. Lee Cattermole, John O’Shea and Bryan Oviedo all made significant contributions, but it was Cattermole’s performance I was most pleased with.

I know he has come in for criticism recently and I am not saying some of it has not been justified, but I am convinced he still has a lot to offer.

When Cattermole is on form and, more importantly, 100 per cent fit, he has an influence on the rest of the team that not many of the others do.

The three points on Saturday were priceless, but there was more to enjoy with the youngsters freshening up the team and giving the fans renewed hope.